After pretty much a lifetime of insomnia problems (that just keep getting worse and worse), I finally broke down and went to a sleep doctor today. I'm not sure what I was expecting. I thought they would sign me up for one of those overnight stays at a sleep clinic--maybe give me some drugs (I'm typically not a fan of prescription drugs, but I'm getting a little desperate). I've tried every natural sleep remedy (Valerian Root, Melatonin, 5HTP, chamomile, lavender, cardamon and warm milk, meditations, sound machine), but sleep alludes me.
I assumed I'd get advice like: Don't read on your tablet before bed; shut off the t.v. an hour before bed; cut back on your caffeine (I've tried switching to decaf before).
I didn't hear any of these things. I kind of wish I had.
The doctor said that I need to re-program my brain for sleep. And then listed how to go about doing that.
So first, I'd like to apologize ahead of time for the royal b*tch I'm going to be for the next six weeks (well, six weeks starting after the 4th. I have some special plans over the holiday weekend).
The doctor says there are two rules:
1. The bed is for two things, and two things only--sleep and sex. If I'm not doing one of those two things, I shouldn't be in the bed.
2. For the next six weeks I must go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning.
Well, except that I have to go with my earliest morning since I can't very well sleep through my career. And my earliest morning is 4:30am. So instead of counting the days until I get to sleep in, I will be setting my alarm (Saturdays and Sundays too) for 4:30am every morning. Based on the fact that I'm sleeping 3 1/2 - 5 1/2 hours a night right now, bedtime will be at 10:30pm (I typically head upstairs between 9pm and 9:30pm when I have to be up at 4:30am).
The thought is that right now I'm spending 8 hours in bed, but I'm only sleeping half of that. So, no more than six hours in bed so my body can learn to sleep during that six hours. Once I start sleeping well for six hours, I can increase my sleep in 15 minute increments.
No reading in bed (currently, I read in bed every night). And if I'm in bed and find I can't sleep, I'm to get up and go to another room to read, watch tv, etc. If I wake up during the night (which I currently do all the time) and can't go back to sleep, I'm to get up and go to another room to read or something. In four to six weeks, my body/brain should be cooperating. And bed should = sleep.
If it means that I will eventually be able to get a good night's sleep, it will be well worth it. Because there are times I am so sleep deprived I feel like I'm losing my mind. Plus, my cortisol levels are so out of whack, the lack of sleep is making it impossible to take on weight. At 45, I really don't need any extra hormone imbalances.
So join me as I embark on this sleep program (I guess a bonus is that I have something new to blog about!) And with bedtime being only 6 hours out of a 24 hour day, that's 18 hours to accomplish other things! (When I'm not in a grumpy, comatose state).
So stay tuned for more on my sleep journey!
"O sleep! O gentle sleep!Nature’s soft nurse, how have I frighted thee,That thou no more wilt weigh my eyelids downAnd steep my senses in forgetfulness?"-Henry IV, Part 2 (Act 3, Sc. i), Shakespeare